She chose “sunny” for an early spring! That’s what’s shakin’ at the Yekaterinburg Zoopark…
On Monday, Pugovka, a long-eared Russian hedgehog at the Yekaterinburg Zoopark, promised the people of the Urals an early spring, in a local event rivalling the American holiday Groundhog Day. Handlers placed Pugovka, the Russian diminutive for “button” or “buttonette” on a mat before two separate sets of plates with her favourite delicacies, including curds, carrots, and ground meat, with the phrases “early spring”, “late spring”, “sunny”, and “cloudy”. Unable to make up her mind at first, Pugovka eventually chose “early spring”. Then, hesitating a bit between “’sunny” and “cloudy”, she ended up at “sunny”, signalling an early and sunny spring. This is Pugovka’s fourth year serving as prognosticator. A Yekaterinburg Zoopark statement noted, “This event is similar to the overseas Groundhog Day and the ancient Roman Hedgehog Day, where the animals make predictions regarding the coming spring. However, our zoopark doesn’t have a groundhog, so our long-eared hedgehog Pugovka got the job. This year, she continued her responsibility… to determine what kind of weather awaits us when spring begins”.
German immigrants brought customs to the USA that became the famous American holiday Groundhog Day, popularised around the world by the 1993 film of the same name. According to the American tradition, if Punxsutawney Phil leaves his burrow and doesn’t see his shadow, his country will have an early spring. This year, Phil emerged from his burrow atop Gobbler’s Knob in Pennsylvania and saw his shadow, forecasting six more weeks of winter for North America. In recent years, some Russian cities decided to celebrate the holiday themselves, but using hedgehogs instead of groundhogs. The groundhogs used in America, the Marmota monax, only range in North America; in Russia, the hedgehog is a widespread woodland animal, having much forest and cultural lore. North American groundhogs in Russian zooparks usually sleep through the 2 February holiday, given the longer Russian winters.
2 February 2015